This New Year, Resolve to Treat Yourself With Love and Respect

The double standard we apply to ourselves when it comes to weight management.

By SHARE

Working with patients in weight management, I'm regularly faced with the situation of people who are mad at themselves simply for being human when inevitably something has gotten in the way of their best intentions.

Maybe a deadline at work has messed up their gym schedule or interrupted their home cooking? Perhaps the needs of a sick child have superseded their own? Maybe a vacation, a birthday or a holiday party has trumped dietary discretion? And more often than not, their response is defeatist. They feel shame and/or guilt about their supposed failure, when what they've failed at is remaining "on track" despite clearly icy road conditions combined with the summer tires of real life.

[See: Easiest Diets to Follow.]

Because real life isn't a straight line, is it? Whether it's our jobs, our relationships, our kids or our educations, real life has its ups, downs, bumps and potholes. Sometimes they're there for wonderfully happy reasons, and sometimes they're sad, but the truth remains – regardless of our plans, goals or desires – we're going to have good weeks and bad weeks, no matter how hard we try.

Of course, when it comes to areas of life outside of weight management, most of us are pretty good at accepting our personal bests as great. Sure, we might be disappointed if we get a bad grade on a test we studied hard for, but at the end of the day, usually we're comfy with the simple notion that we did our best.

[Read: The No. 1 Skill for Weight Management.]

And when was the last time you felt personally, wholly defeated because you had a fight with your spouse, or you raised your voice unnecessarily at your children, or you discovered that you buried an important email at work? Those situations might make you momentarily sad, frustrated, angry or dismayed, but chances are, within fairly short order, maybe after an apology, a hug or a dedicated email purge, you'll move on.

Not so with weight management. With weight management, what would be a small hiccup in any other sphere of life means falling off the rails, and suddenly it's all over. A few bad days translate into an "I-failed-and-can't-do-it" attitude. But here's the real kicker – it's only all over, if it's you.

If it were your best friend, your spouse or your child who had a normal human day, week or even month off of his or her healthful living plans and talked to you about it, you'd no doubt counsel that person to not worry; you'd tell all of them that they are human like everyone else and just to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and move forward again – while also likely finding some positive changes that didn't completely fall by the wayside to prop them up.

[Read: Confidence is the New Sexy.]

New Year's Resolutions are a dime a dozen, and many will have to do with weight management, healthful eating and fitness. This year, in addition (or instead), consider resolving to treat yourself with just as much love and respect as you do your closest friends and relatives. Anytime you catch yourself beating up on your own normal human imperfections, I want you to role play, and consider how you might counsel your loved ones were they in the exact same situation. Because you deserve to love and respect yourself too; no doubt, doing so will confer onto you tremendous health and life benefits.

[See: 11 Health Habits That Will Help You Live to 100.]

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns and feedback.

Yoni Freedhoff, MD, is an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa, where he's the founder and medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute—dedicated to non-surgical weight management since 2004. Dr. Freedhoff sounds off daily on his award-winning blog, Weighty Matters, and you can follow him on Twitter @YoniFreedhoff. Dr. Freedhoff's latest book, The Diet Fix: Why Everything You've Been Taught About Dieting is Wrong and the 10-Day Plan to Fix It, will be published by Random House's Crown/Harmony in 2014.